Morocco is a chaotic place. Chaotic and like Casablanca all at once. You can be amongst a snake charmer, squealing monkey and elderly man negotiating a price for a vibrantly colored scarf at the Souk and then go through one green lacquered door to only be surrounded by serenity, beautiful tiles, fountains and silver tea service. If you crave a colorful rollercoaster that inspires and serenity like never before, Morocco is the place for you.
L’Hotel Marrakech: L’Hôtel Marrakech is a privately owned riad set in the heart of the “red city’s” Medina. L’Hôtel is conveniently close to the vibrant Jemaa El Fna square, the bustling Souk and nearby the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. This historic 19th-century riad, originally the central part of a Caidal palace, comprises five spacious suites surrounding a uniquely wide courtyard garden and swimming pool. This charming retreat combines delicious food, great comfort, and service whilst capturing the elegance of hotels of the 1930s. Owned by Jasper Conran, the riad combines superb Moroccan craftsmanship with pieces of antique furniture, textiles, lighting, and art from his collection, making it feel more like a home than a hotel.
El Fenn: With 28-individually styled rooms and suites, tree-filled courtyards, a 7000 square foot rooftop terrace and a family of resident tortoises, El Fenn is the perfect retreat from which to enjoy Africa’s most exotic city. Combining grandeur and historic architecture with hideaway nooks, terraces and gardens, the hotel is just a five-minute walk from the world-famous Djemaa el Fna square and the bustling maze of streets that make up the souk.
SEE + DO
Yves Saint Laurent Museum: Fifteen years have gone by since the last Yves Saint Laurent runway show at the Centre Pompidou and the closing of the couture house that bears his name. Fifteen years during which the couturier’s heritage has been preserved by the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, whose mission is to safeguard and share YSL’s unique creative work.
During his forty designing years, Yves Saint Laurent created iconic garments he designed have become part of the history of the 20th century. The pea coat, trench coat, ‘smoking’, pantsuit and safari jacket became integral to a woman’s everyday wardrobe. At the same time, Yves Saint Laurent was the last of the grand couturiers who dominated the extraordinary epoch of haute couture.
Located very near the Jardin Majorelle – acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980 – the musée YVES SAINT LAURENT Marrakech occupies a new building that includes a permanent exhibition space devoted to the work of Yves Saint Laurent and designed by Christophe Martin. The museum also includes a hall for temporary exhibitions, a research library with over 5,000 volumes, a 140-seat auditorium, bookshop and terrace café.
Le Jardin Majorell: The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is one of the most visited sites in Morocco. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City” and it was one of my favorite restful yet vibrant spots in Marrakech.
“We amble along shady lanes, in the midst of trees and exotic plants of dreamy origin; we walk past refreshing, burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers; we hear wafting through the air, laden with sugared fragrance, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of numerous birds who come here to take refuge; we stop, and the path turns unexpectedly, revealing a building with Moorish charm, with a hint of Art Deco, painted in astonishingly vibrant primary colours, glowing with an intense blue the artist perceived in the Atlas Mountains. We are soothed and enchanted by the harmony of this luxuriant and vivid imagery, which issues a delicate summons to the senses, offering us a calming retreat near, and yet so far from the bustling city, sheltered from time by high earthen walls.” – Jacques Majorelle
Hammam at Four Seasons Marrakech: Central to the spa offering in Morocco is the hammam. Hammams are traditional public baths where the locals go weekly to socialize, as well as bathe. In the luxury hotels, you get a very rarefied version of the hammam experience. Cleanse your body in olive oil black soap followed by a full exfoliation. The ghassoul body mask, made from clay found in the Atlas Mountains, rids your body of toxins, leaving you feeling deeply cleansed. With the texture of the “butter”, the soap is made from black-olive pulp and is rich in vitamin E. It prepares your skin for exfoliation which the therapist will carry out using a traditional kessa glove to remove impurities and dead skin.
One thing to bear in mind when visiting Moroccan spas is that nudity is no big deal within the hammam or treatment room. You will have a spa gown and a tiny disposable thong to wear; once the gown is off, you are down to your thong. Every part of your body will be scrubbed and massaged, depending on the treatment you have chosen.
The Souk: There is so much to do and see in Marrakech and in the surrounding areas, but whatever you do, do not miss this. Our tour guide, Zaky, took us around the Souk and customized the visit to our requests of everything interior design. After some tea with our new custom loom rug friends, we purchased two area rugs and were on our way to the rest of our shopping, meeting and greeting spree. The hustle and bustle in the Souk is electrifying. Zaky invited us to meet artisans (think lighting, metalwork, leather goods, woodworking, yarns for scarves and fabrics), watch their processes, take photos, tip-toe above the Souk and taste some of the specialties from the food stands in the square.
MAX & JAN: MAX & JAN is an ethnic chic fashion and lifestyle brand that combines Moroccan heritage and craftsmanship with international fashion and flare. MAX & JAN is the leading design brand created by the Belgian/Swiss design duo Jan Pauwels and Maximilian Scharl and their hip, cool shop can be found just outside the Souk. Thanks to my designer pal, Drew McGukin for sharing this find!